They laughed. And not just a little giggle, but a full belly laugh. Then others laughed. I don’t think I’ve ever done something so simple to make so many people laugh.

How could I not do it again and again?

And just like that @VanCityPenguin was born.

It started as a little joke to do on one of my morning walks. Along with all the other pictures I took, I added in a few penguin shots. The technique took a little while to master. I must have looked pretty ridiculous down on the ground attempting to get a good angle to frame his funny little body.

Soon I got better at taking his picture. It was during a sunset at False Creek that I took some photos and showed a few people that were passing by. They immediately looked out to the water to see where the penguin was. When I revealed the little guy, now hidden away in my pocket, they laughed. Too many wanted copies. I discovered the hilarious power of VanCityPenguin. The next day my penguin friend had a Twitter and Instagram account.

Going public meant he could make even more people laugh. And we could do it together on my walks all over Vancouver. A much needed incentive to get me out the door to search for some of the city’s best locations.

The concept seemed perfect.

Since I’ve already proclaimed 2018 the Year of the Penguin this seems like the next logical step.

So far he’s seen some pretty interesting places, met some new friends and attracted some impressive followers.

Who knows where it will lead? As long as people keep laughing, I will keep taking his picture.

at the Olympic torch lighting

snow in Vancouver

watching the sunset

The Depression Dance

I battle depression but it’s not always a fight…

Sometimes it’s a negotiation.

Sometimes even a partnership.

Lately there has been some give and take.

Life changes, the disease changes and I’ve certainly changed.

I believe the trick is to live a life where you can learn what can help.

Luckily it’s 2017 and the concept of depression is becoming widely known. The Bell Let’s Talk campaign is brilliant for getting the word out and rallying the troops. I give credit to each person that suffers and is brave enough to come forward and confront the stigma.

You see, depression is not prejudiced. It doesn’t care what colour you are or what religion you follow. It doesn’t care where you were born or who you like to have sex with. Rich, poor, famous or a no-name; depression can climb inside anyone. It can strike at any time.

I’ve been inspired by a local writer, Owen Laukkanen, and the way he’s transparent about his struggles. I’m guessing Owen has been a beacon of hope for many in his huge fan base.

Owen is one of the reasons I started to put more effort into my photography.

As more people share their stories I embrace the fact that I’m part of a huge community.  Even better? Some of these people are pretty cool. It’s like an elite club with a harsh entry fee. But once you’re in and look around you wonder at the incredible people who share your journey.

Lately, to ease my mind and give the semblance of moving forward, I’ve been walking at least 10k a day. It wasn’t a plan and I wasn’t in distress but the concept seemed right. Having a fitbit has helped to keep me honest. To make the hours I spend out there a little more interesting, I started taking pictures. It’s odd how your mind can be consumed with looking for a perfect shot to post on social media. There’s nothing like that type of one-pointed concentration to positively focus the mind.

And the extra added bonus… When reaction to the picture is positive the endeavour comes full circle. Motivation, meditation, magic. It’s rewarding to share the moment.

So this blog is to thank each and every one that has liked or loved or commented on one of my “walking” pictures.

As for my long standing dance with depression…

There’s no guarantee who will be the ultimate winner. A fighting chance is all I can ask for.




Watching People Watching

I love to walk. And as I write this blog I realize I probably got it from my Dad. He walked.

Anyone that has the habit of going for long walks knows it’s more than just moving your feet. It’s time to think, and for me, the space to contemplate almost anything.

My greatest walk was my trek the length of Scotland. That’s where I found out who I was. It cemented my love of walking.

I like to wear reflective sunglasses while I walk so I can watch people. This makes it much easier to spy on them. I’m ridiculously curious about what others are thinking. This is heightened when I see people out on the same paths I tread. What secrets are you mulling over? What mundane facts fill your head while you stride along? Everyone is thinking about something. Is it a lie? Is it an untold truth? Or maybe it’s just a boring fact.

I always wonder.

Then I took the first picture of someone I didn’t know while they were looking at a horizon. It was my window into their mind. If I could see what they were seeing maybe I could get a glimpse of what they were thinking.

The method never worked. I am still left to wonder what fills people’s soul.

But the picture idea survived.

So I started taking photos of people watching things. Then I started giving them away. At first I was a little nervous with the approach. Then it became my norm.

“Excuse me, I just took this picture of you… can I email it to you?”

Very few say no and last year 67 people said yes.

When asked why I do it I’ve said it’s just a little gift of happiness that’s easy to give.

And it gives me joy.

I have a pile of email replies about how much my images are loved. I get to hear how they have been turned into Christmas cards, used on Facebook headers and shared with friends.

I’ve discovered these pictures serve as reminders of a time and place.

So I may not know what these people are thinking when they crossed my path, but I see what they are looking at and that is close enough.






Happy New Year

My favourite pastime at Long Beach was the continuation of my “People Watching” photography that I talked about in my Reactions blog. The opportunities were endless and the backgrounds are stunning.

PW blog 5

This week’s plan was to tell the story about how I was walking along Chesterman Beach and saw a woman at the shoreline screaming into a phone and pointing out to the crashing waves. Two men were running to some huge rocks at the end of the bay. I could hear them calling out a name. There was no sign of anyone out in the surf. This had all the signs of a disaster. I said a prayer and walked on.

Clearly it was too much of a heart wrenching event to witness let alone photograph.

In the end it was blog worthy. So yesterday I sat down to write the story.

Then my Twitter feed pissed me off.

Monday was the Lunar New Year and Tuesday was Losar, the Tibetan celebration of that New Year.

And last night, when I should have been writing the, “Oh my god, my kids went surfing and might be dead.” blog, I was again explaining to someone that it was inconsiderate to call February 8, 2016 the Chinese New Year.

I had pointed this out many times over the last 48 hours. Now it was beyond annoying and just plain rude. I admit my problem might stem from the Chinese/Tibet conflict. I am biased.

But still… there are other people in the world that celebrate the Lunar New Year.

Do we ever say Merry Catholic Christmas? Or Happy North American New Year? Never.

I applauded each person , company or organization that sent out “Lunar New Year” greetings and called it just that.

If you’re Chinese or are attending a Chinese event, then yes, by all means, get swept up in a Chinese New Year celebration!

But for me, I marked this day wishing people “Tashi Delek” at the Losar ceremony.

I also made the aspiration to take more “people watching” pictures throughout this Year of the Monkey.

Which brings me back to those kids out surfing.

Minutes later the rescue boat could be seen circling the water. I couldn’t help but watch. Then from around a huge boulder came the men climbing over the rocks back to shore with two other people. That’s when I started taking the pictures…

I was able to give the family a picture of the mother hugging her daughter.

I also gave them this shot of them all heading back along the beach…

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As the Dad gave me his email address his voice started to waver. I looked up and said, “This was a good ending.” His eyes teared up and he just nodded.

It’s all about capturing the little moments.

PW blog 4 rPW blog 2 rPW blog 1 r


Happy Lunar New Year…